Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Living blind

If you examine things too closely, you become a "picker," scraping at any and all impurities while seeking to eradicate filth from your sight. Yet, if your gaze is too farsighted, you begin to assume others have everything buttoned up neatly, viewing only their captions of comedy and cuteness. So what's a gal to do? Take away sight all together? Yes, because we have chosen to "live by faith NOT by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). Wouldn't a legally blind individual object to such living if given the choice? Well, if he/she has ever lived by faith alone, I think he/she would agree: sight can be very misleading. Our vision can greatly hinder us from stretching our faith muscle, because by definition, Faith is "being certain of things we cannot see" (Hebrews 11:1). We can only see "clearly" when we are stripped of our vision.
Looking at pictures below, one might think we have such a happy idyllic family these days, but after great success with Levi's eating, unfortunately, he's now battling a double (tube-leaking) ear infection causing him to refuse all foods and re-introduce his G-tube in order to keep fever medicine in his weak, vomiting body. One might think my little Ro Ro was the happiest baby on the planet, which he is fifty percent of the time, but the other half of his days are filled with tears. He only knows two speeds-- completely relaxed and filled with joy, or completely angry and filled with tears. There is no middle road. One might also believe I have the most obedient soon-to-be four year-old in the world. But I don't take pictures of punishment in our home because that would be just plain shaming for him.
Whether you are looking at a future trying to plan for retirement, plan for college, plan for the summer, or plan for an early bedtime tonight, do not forget that it is the crazy plans no one could see coming that really make your life impactful. When you trust God with your present and your future, you can take steps in faith that look down right ridiculous to the rest. When the world looks dark and dim, or your choices appear slim to none, that is when you can finally understand the definition of faith. That is when you get to experience radical living that reaps huge rewards that no one could have "seen coming."

I've seen a lot of illness this cold and flu season, including my last four days of sleepless nights, but I've also seen a lot of sweetness in between.... Take this picture for example.... I heard some boys up from nap last week, and I saw Si-man snuck down to read with his little brother.

After a fast DMV visit, we had time to ride "the MARTA train" which to Silas was as good as Disney World!

Before the double ear infection we are currently battling, Levi was eating great! He took a handful of "adult" oatmeal bites without choking!

Just a little fun date with my first born to TJs and the pet store.

Thank you God for this moment of eating "3rd stage" toddler food without gagging. 

Oh I pray it's like riding a bike, and when he's healthy we'll be right back at this.

Who needs a sand box when you have the old garden dirt to clean out. 

De-weeding and castle-making for this year's crops.

One of my favorite traditions: our resurrection gardens.

Getting ready for Easter around the corner! We need to find rocks to cover those tombs until Easter Sunday.

One little smile this sick week because of his favorite song playing in between tears. 

Always smiling when he isn't crying! :)

Look who made our lunch while I dealt with two crying babies! It was the best PBJ (on our French toast bread) that I've ever had!  Don't ever under estimate your preschooler!

Diaper changing station= some days I really do have Irish twins. 

Here's to living blind this week and every week I still can't see in the future!

~Blind Buster

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Are you full or even filled?

Some parents love DIY crafts. Some have a knack for homemade costumes or perfectly balanced healthy meals. Other moms and dads are great team captains or school committee leaders. Still others just love cooking or cleaning. However, I have yet to meet a mother or father who actually had every area of parenting naturally and sincerely mastered.
None of us was built to be perfect, but I believe we all have aspects of our calling woven into our natural fabric. When we stop trying to be what we think we should or what we believe others think we should, and when we embrace our natural God-given gifts and let go of those areas we struggle to fulfill, joy envelopes within our current calling and state of being.
I may not be crafty, and I have tried and tried but failed and failed at sewing, but I do love to cook, organize, and write. Writing may not be in the tagline or job description for mothering, but God has given me an outlet to document a diary, so to speak, of the past and present for posterity purposes. One day in the future, I hope that my children will be able to read my words and see that their mother never had it all figured out; she was always learning and growing even if they thought (for a time) she had it all figured out.
If you think your talents and abilities are not utilized to their fullest in your current position, then ask God for outlets to strengthen and develop those gifts, and trust that He will give that to you because He is the one that gave you the gifts and talents to begin with. We do not choose our gifts; they are just that--gifts. For this reason, I believe we are most fulfilled when we utilize our talents for a greater kingdom- not our future retirement kingdom or our children's happiness kingdom, but a Heavenly Kingdom. When His "kingdom comes" through the gifts He has bestowed, it's truly like being part of a supernatural purpose. Even if its minuscule, and we don't always realize our impact, when we seek His will through our lives and choices, we begin to feel fulfillment in the most mundane faithfulness. There is no pressure to perform when you embrace your calling, but trust God to use it for His perfect purposes. I read a great quote from the book Missional Motherhood, "we can only help teach it, suggest it, exemplify it, and affirm it. Salvation belongs to the Lord" (Furman, Gloria). I certainly can't be perfect for others, let alone my own family. Thank goodness I was never expected or designed with that in mind.

Speaking of expectations:   Levi is doing well! Although we are thrilled we haven't used his feeding tube in over a month, the nutritionist and GI doc basically track his weight gain and chart status (as we all know too well). Thus, instead of fireworks and excitement, we were told that we are simply "holding our own," which means we've gained just a little weight in the last six weeks. It isn't about whether or not we use his G-tube, or even what types of solids he can swallow now. The docs simply want to see him get much bigger and stronger much faster before we even speak of removing anything. Thank goodness I didn't really have any other expectations. Little Levi is still just under 20 pounds. We are hopeful that spring and summer will bring less illness and more weight gain!  But we are excited about his progress and showering him with our own fireworks. The more he sees his big and little brother do, the more he is naturally driven to do himself. We are thankful for that natural competition. ;)
Here's a little yummy weight-gain for St. Patty's day- green pudding!

Now I'm not too crafty, but I couldn't resist making these myself when I saw how much they would cost me at a home store. Happy Spring!

Warm weather means Ro Ro can't just wear pajamas all day. He looked so old  our of fleece footies!

I really think he's my chunkiest baby yet! (He's already competing with big brothers.)

Levi trying to get those muscles bigger!

Don't give up big man! 

If Levi can hold his own, mommy can hold two kids for our afternoon walk too!

Happy spring!

~FulFilled Buster

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Competition or comparison


Many believe it, as I do, to mark a significant calendar point in history: Before Christ.
Some associate the abbreviation to mean Before Common Era, adding an E in order to escape any religious associations.
You may quickly think of Boston College or the Breakfast Club.
I now have my own favorite:   Before Children.

Before Children, I used to be the world's fastest eater. I'm not sure where I gathered this skill set, but I know that a meal didn't take me more than five minutes to consume. For some reason I did not pass along this Olympic medal speed to my eldest child. Like other three and four year-olds, Silas eats at snail speed. He also dresses, brushes his teeth and does a myriad of other common tasks painstakingly slow. Besides pulling out all our arm hair to get through these activities, we have found that a little friendly competition helps move him right along. Unfortunately, I think he has now associated "winning" and "speed" as the most important endeavor imaginable. Matthew and I are both fairly, (okay extremely) competitive, so we definitely passed the generational baton there.
Since getting Silas to hurry along and "beat Levi" at putting on pajamas and buckling his seatbelt seemed harmless and effective, I began using my parental powers for something I said I would never do BC--  comparing my children to one another.

Silas has recently decided to revert back (again) to being a baby. Instead of just Roman waking me up at night, Silas gets our of bed to wake me for reasons only God can understand. He's cried more in the last couple of weeks than my other two kids combined. Regardless of the fact that he's been a little sick again, he's always been my sweet dramatic child. However, his behavior has seems downright ridiculous compared to what his brother has to go through on a regular basis. (But there goes the dreadful sibling comparison that I swore I'd always evade.) In my frustration I have lashed out letting him feel the sting of having little Levi be much braver, stronger, and sane. As I stepped back and watched Silas deal with himself from afar, I painfully asked God to forgive my iniquities.

I heard all the verses that I had ignored.
"But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor." Galatians 6:4
"Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding."    2 Corinthians 10:12
"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Philippians 2:3

How could I compare my two boys who are each made so uniquely with their own strengths and weaknesses. I distinctly remember being the "sensitive" and "fearful" child in my own family, but I also distinctly remember my parents never telling me that I wasn't strong like my big sister. They did their best to push us out of our own comfort zones, and not compare our zones.
Thank goodness my God and my children are willing to forgive me so quickly because I know I'll continue to make BC mistakes.
Fortunately, my big boys are now sharing a room, which has brought out a whole new strength in big brother Si. He's nothing short of a miracle for little Levi. The two teach each other so very much, and their differences help push the other on to bigger and better things. I pray Roman will be as close to them as they are to each other right now!

Levi wants to do everything big brother does, which means great hand therapy!

And great feeding therapy!

And great "cheese" skills thanks to Silas!

Just a little something I tell myself on tired mornings.

I can't believe this nugget is already four months! 

Thanks Dee Dee and T Pop for our new beds!

~Competition Buster

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Levi is 2!

As any momma will tell you at any age... "I cannot believe my baby is ____."  Well with Levi, it's always a little extra special to watch him hit new milestones and new seasons. He welcomed his second birthday with many milestones finally struck, including wearing overalls! Since we haven't used the G-tube in 3 weeks, little man can wear those cute straps without having to take them off and on all day. He's still taking down his 7 syringes by mouth, and even though he threw up from some mucus this week, he's learning to handle colds and coughs a little better! He also decided to act like a "typical" two-year old the day before he actually turned two. While not enjoyable, I was thankful to watch him act "normally" with meltdown after meltdown for no apparent reason. In watching our little ones grow, I began to notice some of the sentiments that other people expressed towards my current season.
"Those are the lost years."
"You all are in the black hole, but you'll emerge again in a few years."
"It's just a season of no sleep." 
"This season will be a blur, and you'll look back and wonder where the years went."
"It's just a season of survival."

I realized that I've become too accustomed to relegating every uncomfortable stage as simply a "season." When I use the term "season" in this context, I'm actually giving a negative connotation to my circumstances. Yes seasons change, and yes my life changes daily, but I do not want to simply survive my season right now. Embrace the cliche: I want to THRIVE in every season. Why do I naturally adhere to common customs and cute hashtags (I don't even know how to tweet) #terribletwos. Probably because I love words and alliteration.
It's a natural instinct to want to help others through circumstances that you've already weathered, but I want to be careful that I do not succumb to commonalities. As sweet big-little Levi has taught me (rather, God has taught me through him), some situations and seasons may never change, so I must decide in the here and now to embrace their own unique goodness. We must all remind ourselves that we may not get to the next season, so do not miss out on the current one no matter how "seasonal" it may feel.

As an important ritual, we visited Levi's first home, Northside Hospital, and thanked his first doctors, nurses, and therapists, for getting him where he is today! It's a true blessing to recall those hard days that brought such goodness.

Thank you Gibby for sending us some great bday hats!
Levi is learning to "bowl" in physical therapy, so we thought it'd be a great way to celebrate his 2nd birthday! The boys loved it, and what's more amazing-- we let them each bowl for us, and Levi actually won the whole game!

Ice cream makes Levi's birthday everyone's favorite day!

Well Roman kind of missed out. 

But it was all about you bubba!

Happy birthday bubba! We love you little man!

Thank you for continuing to pray for our humble little home. Levi is approaching the 20 pound mark, so please pray as we go to his nutrition appointment next week!  God bless each one of you in the season you find yourself in today!

~Seasonal second Buster

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Laughter is the best medicine

By March, most Americans have forgotten or given up on their New Year's resolutions. For this and other reasons, I don't think I've ever been resolute about anything on January first, but this year I did decide to try and laugh every single day in 2017. I can tell you that I've already failed at this endeavor. Like many resolutions though, I think mine was a bit unrealistic. Rather, I should have resolved that someone in my household would laugh ever day. With sweet little ones, this goal is actually within our reach. We do not all have to laugh together, but one man's laugh certainly brings on another's.

At deeper glance, I realized one of my major opponents at joy-killing --  illness. I have yet to fully let go of the anxiety I feel when I know one of my babies is getting sick. With dirty boys, I have strayed far from the label of germaphobe, but history has hurt my optimism. When Roman is sick, I am up all night; when Levi is sick, I am cleaning up throw up all day, and when Silas is sick we all have to feel it, day and night. So how am I to embrace a sick season that ensures some measure of discomfort? Laugh at it!

Illness is inevitable. Instead of resisting, I should (as a Proverbs 31 wise woman) "laugh at the days to come." Likewise, Proverbs 17:22 says "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones."  My bones definitely ached with Shingles, but I bet if I had laughed a little more, I wouldn't have felt so tired. When we don't take our lives or ourselves so seriously, we actually release any preexisting anxiety about what may or may not be waiting for us. I've seen tickle times help resolve most problems in our home. While this would probably be a bit inappropriate in the workplace, there's something to be said for silliness. Regardless of your illness, find something that makes you smile, it's truly the best medicine you'll take today.

Little Ro Ro is doing well. He has a four-month doc appointment along with Big brother Levi on Tuesday- Levi's second birthday!!! I can hardly believe he's going to be two. It is nothing short of a miracle. We are praying for great weight gain for Levi as he continues to try new foods (he swallowed a tiny piece of meatloaf the other night!), and even though all the boys seems a bit snotty this week (as I just cleaned up the "throw up bucket" from Levi), I'm hopeful for what lies ahead for our sweet middle child. All three boys bring me such joy whenever I forget how to laugh. May we all step a little lighter with our newfound medicine this week!

A little something to make you smile...

~Laughing Buster